[ubuntu-uk] [IMPORTANT NOTICE] - Ubuntu-UK Contact

David M lists2007 at trancepod.34sp.com
Tue Sep 25 19:52:43 BST 2007

Thanks for your reply, Alan.. Comments below..

Alan Pope wrote in gmane.linux.ubuntu.user.british 
> On Mon, 2007-09-24 at 23:30 +0100, David M wrote:
>> The process sounds reasonable 'in the large' but definitely not in the
>> detail. *Please* bear in mind that there are people who "don't do IRC"
> This is why it has been made a vote on launchpad and not IRC. If the
> vote had happened on IRC when it was scheduled to on Sunday 23rd there
> would have been about 10 or so people voting. Hardly democratic I'm sure
> you'll agree when there are over 250 people in the team (according to
> launchpad).

Glurk! I wasn't even aware that there had been a proposal to vote on
Sunday 23?!! When was such a proposal announced? I certainly don't
recall seeing any mention of it on the mailing list..

> The subject of the process for voting in a new Leader/Point Of Contact
> for the LoCo has been brought up (by myself) at multiple meetings in the
> past but it has either not been discussed or postponed for one reason or
> another.=20

Well, I've never taken part in an IRC-meeting, and I rather suspect that
many people who are active on the list also haven't, either. I also
rather suspect that online discussions requiring a "right here, right now"
time commitment don't always work as well as the more gentle - and
yes, more prolonged - discussion on an issue over some time on a list,
etc, where people can take part at a time that suits them. If somebody
can't make a fixed time appointment, they are more likely to just shrug
it off and "put it off" until some future time, whereas a thread started 
on a non-realtime list, etc, does sit there as a prominent reminder more
actively begging followup, perhaps.

> Now we are in a situation where the present leader has stepped down and
> we are looking for a new leader with no process in place to deal with
> that.=20

Indeed, and I do want to emphasise that I am glad that people are trying
to put a process in place, but I am also concerned that the process is
as democratic and as effective as possible.

> Well. What actually happened was that it was suggested in the meeting on
> IRC and subsequently on the list last week that the vote should happen
> on Sunday 23rd, but as not many people turned up on Sunday 23rd it
> seemed unfair to hold the vote then.

Where was the proposed vote announced? I don't recall seeing mention of
it on the list?

>> That's a mere two days away! Many people won't have even read this
>> message until sometime tomorrow, possibly even later, giving even less
>> time to respond.=20
> There have _already_ been mails asking for people to step up and add
> themselves to the wiki to put themselves forward. This isn't the first
> mail to mention it. There has been over a week to do this. We merely
> decided to extend the period to give a couple more days for any extra
> stragglers to add (or remove) themselves.

Yeah, ok, fair enough. But prior to the new deadline date, I am not
aware that a deadline for nominations had actually been announced. We
all know how human nature is such that if a deadline is not actually
set, many people will just hum and haw about making a decision and put
it off until the last minute, whereas a set deadline tends to act as a
more definite prompt for action.

You are probably right that enough time has elapsed for nominations, but
for future occasions it should probably be that an actual deadline is
set, and notified, adequate time in advance, and that the nomination 
period should be long enough to allow potential candidates to give some 
time for thought.

> A GB general election (which some would consider is more important) gets
> the vote over and done with in a day for most people. Can we not cope
> with a few days voting I wonder?

Realworld elections are also not announced with just a few days notice,
however. They are announced a long time in advance to allow potential
candidates to consider themselves for nomination, and equally
importantly, to allow voters to make alternative voting arrangements
(for example, in the realworld, postal or proxy voting) if they cannot
otherwise vote during the voting period.

What if a potential voter has already made plans to go away for long
weekend this weekend?

Indeed, what if somebody is already away on holiday and won't return
until after the voting period?

>> Again, that's too short a time. A week should be allowed for voting.
>> (And why stop at 21:00, rather than 23:59? Or are people who check their
>> email in the evening to be disbarred from participation?)
> Why not 03:00, are people who check their email late at night disbarred
> from participation?=20

Well, indeed, but a cutoff has to be set somewhere, and if it starts at
midnight it is at least fairly logical to also close at midnight.

> Past experience tells me that whatever scheme is concocted, *someone*
> will object. I am not trying to belittle your objections, I can see
> valid arguments in your points, but please don't think that this was
> done maliciously, with intent to skew votes.=20

I don't believe the process was set up maliciously, but I do believe
that some (relatively minor) changes need to be made.

>> Using Launchpad as a voting platform seems reasonable apart from one
>> thing: how do we identify and authenticate voters?
> You need a launchpad ID and membership of the ubuntu-uk team. The actual
> votes will be anonymous however. There is NO way to figure out who voted
> for whom.=20

I would certainly hope, given the nature of the community and its
members, that there would be no sockpuppetry or other attempts to vote 
illegitimately, but it is perhaps an issue that we do need to give some
thought to.

> Lets see how many new registrants to launchpad (and indeed existing
> launchpad registrants) join the ubuntu-uk team in the next couple of
> days and then vote shall we :)

Can you clarify what is meant by "join" the Ubuntu-UK team?
I do have a Launchpad account, and I am a member of this list, but is
there some other additional "joining" process that I am not aware of?

> Whatever process we put in place can be scrutinised to the nth degree.
> People can poke and prod it and find holes. 

Indeed, and I did not mean to pick holes for the sake of nerdish
nitpickiness, but I am concerned that the timescales should be somewhat
less hectic to allow the fullest opportunities for participation, both
now and on future occasions.

> Other ways and means have been suggested, but on the whole launchpad 
> seems to be the best way. 

I'm not 100% sure about that - perhaps "least bad" way? ;-)
Although, to be honest, I can't think of a more robust system of voting
at present, but I should probably look into this at some point
(realworld politics is another of my interests and there is certainly
the likelihood that e-voting systems will be considered for the UK at
some point, with all the problems that it can entail..).

> It is (for example) how new members of the Ubuntu Community Council were
> voted in. If it's good enough for the top level of our process
> management I'd say it's good enough for us!

Sure. But I do hope the Ubuntu community as a whole is not getting too
carried away with the fluffy-ness and rightness of the (African) ubuntu 
concept to close its eyes to the possibility that sadly any community
may still have some members who may be less honest or have lower
standards of integrity than others, and that any community needs to have
ways to overcome such problems, or at least to be aware of the
possibility of them occurring.


David M.  Edinburgh, Scotland. ---- [en,fr,(de) <-- corrections welcome]
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